Think about that for a moment. One drug, which was advertised and promised as being a safe drug, a magic pill to end your pain, safer for you than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), has now been shown to be responsible for as many as 60,000 fatalities in this country alone. That's simply staggering. It's almost as if the pharmaceutical industry has declared war on the health of the American public. Because, indeed, the number of American fatalities here exceeds that of the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and the war with Iraq combined. It also dwarfs the number of Americans killed by terrorists or terrorist acts. In fact, it dwarfs the total number of crime-related deaths in the United States over the last decade. If these statistics are accurate, Vioxx has killed more U.S. citizens over the last few years than all murderers, rapists, burglars and terrorists combined.
This fact is slowly sinking in to the psyche of the American public, both patients and the doctors. The upshot of it all is: Today, instead of merely discovering Vioxx is a dangerous drug and calling for it to be pulled off the market, we are also, as a nation, discovering the pharmaceutical industry is basically a sham. These companies will apparently market practically anything to people as long as they can make money doing so; and when they become aware of the dangers of these drugs, they are likely to ignore those dangers as long as the drugs generate sufficient profits (and as long as they can continue to conduct misleading direct-to-consumer advertising allowed by the FDA).
In my view, Merck pushed too hard and too far. It got greedy and tried to make too much money on a drug that we now know had the potential to cause heart attacks. As a result, the entire industry has lost credibility, and the FDA is under intense fire for its collusion with Merck in allowing the drug to remain on the market.
I believe the Vioxx scandal and its aftermath will one day be seen as the beginning of the end of chemical-based medicine. By chemical-based medicine, I mean medicine that relies on prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals to alter human physiology for some sort of medical purpose. This is an era of medicine that should have been relegated to history long ago, but has persisted primarily because it has been so profitable. It's an era of medicine steeped in the paradigm of the germ theory, which believed every disease could be countered with an appropriate chemical. Thus, from the mid-1900s on, pharmaceutical companies sought out specific chemicals to counter diseases in the same way penicillin kills bacteria.
Yet they have taken this paradigm too far; they have tried to apply the germ theory to diseases not caused by germs. Cancer has no germs. Diabetes is not caused by a parasite or a microbe. Heart disease is not caused by bacteria or viruses. These diseases are metabolic disorders, and yet conventional medicine continues to try to treat them with germ-theory chemicals.
Now we've witnessed the beginning of the end of that era of medicine. It may take years to unravel and we may see yet more scandals and revelations of dangerous drugs, because Vioxx is only one drug out of thousands that are dangerous. With the internet freely spreading information, drug companies can no longer run and hide from the fatal side effects of their prescription drugs. We are about to see a massive change in the pharmaceutical industry, that will ultimately result in chemical based medicine being largely relegated to history.
It's going to take time, though. The current drug racket system involving the FDA and super-powerful drug companies will take years to disassemble. Investors, doctors and egomaniacs will defend the current system of chemical-based medicine to their dying day. Thank goodness no men are immortal. Real advances in scientific understanding, it seems, only emerge when the defenders of old science finally retire or die. It is the nature of scientific revolutions.
Today, we're witnessing the beginning of a revolution in medicine. Ultimately, chemical-based medicine will be seen as a flash in the pan... a short-lived but notable chapter in the history of human boondoggles. But until that time comes, literally millions of people around the world are going to suffer and be killed under the current system of chemical-based medicine. They will be exploited for financial profit, milked for every penny up to their last dying breath, and then hounded for collections of medical bills even after passing.